Step 1. Better sleep mean better dream recollection. Humans do dream during their first four to six hours of sleep, but those dreams are mostly associated with memory and repair. As your sleep time progresses, the periods of REM (rapid eye movement) become longer and lead to more interesting dreams. You can improve the quality of your sleep by making sure you get at least eight hours of sleep; turn off distracting lights and be sure your room is quiet. If you're a light sleeper, you might want to try a sleep mask and earplugs.
Step 2. Keep a dream journal. It's not uncommon for humans to wake up then fall back asleep after dreaming in the REM stage. Most humans forget their dreams after these brief periods of arousal, then immediately fall into the next dream cycle. Experts say that if you wake up after a dream, do not open your eyes or move. Looking around the room can distract you. With your eyes closed, remember the dream as fully as you can. Then, open your eyes and write down as much as you can remember before falling back to sleep. If you are too sleepy to write down all the details, write down the important points and flesh out the rest of the dream when you wake up. Leave a pen and paper, or a dream journal, near your bed. If you prefer, leave a small tape recorder or your phone within easy reach. Just remember to listen to your recording in the morning and finish up any missing details that you can still remember.
Step 3. Remind yourself to remember your dreams. Some humans are lucky, and all they need to do to remember their dreams is to tell themselves to remember. And then remind themselves of that several times a day, like just before falling asleep. If you're like that, try leaving post-it notes around where you're most apt to see them; on the refrigerator, bathroom mirror, your desk, etc. Even if you're not one of these lucky types, try leaving yourself the notes anyway. They can serve as positive affirmations, fostering a more positive mindset.
Step 4. Choose a dream anchor. What is a dream anchor? It's an object you see when you first wake up that you choose to associate with your morning goal of remembering your dreams. Instead of staring off into space and trying to remember what you dreamt about, look at your dream anchor. You don't have to focus on it; it's alright to look through it or just past it. Over time your brain will come to associate looking at that object with dream remembrance, making it easier to recall them.
Step 5. Look out the window. It takes less effort to recall your dreams, experts tell us, if you develop your power of observation. They suggest looking out a window and pretending that it's your dream you're observing. Describe the scene, including sounds and colors. What season is it? Can you describe the plants around you? What is the weather like? If there are people, what are they doing? Do you see any wildlife. What emotions do you feel? You can choose to record your memory in writing, on tape, or with a picture...if you like to draw. As you repeat this process over time, your power of observation will strengthen and you'll begin to remember more details.
Step 6. Turn up the volume. Dreams are easier to remember if their vivid, exciting, or more interesting. One way to stimulate more vivid dreams is to do something unusual or interesting during your waking hours. Being stuck in a boring daily routine can hamper our ability to recall our dreams because they will tend to be less interesting. If you "turn up the volume" on your life, you'll also enhance the quality of your dreams. Shaking up your routine doesn't mean making big changes. Start off with small things; take a different route to work or school, brush your hair differently, put your clothes on in a different order...just small things. If you want to try a major change, that's fine, too.
Food supplements can affect dreams. Foods that are rich in melatonin affects REM sleep. Those include; almonds, cherries, bananas, and oatmeal. Bananas are also high in the vitamin B6, which affects REM, as well. These foods and supplements can increase dream vividness and recollection. And, as most of you know, alcohol and caffeine can negatively affect REM sleep so it's wise to not consume these for at least two hours prior to sleep.
Remembering dreams can take skill and practice. When you do remember a dream, or dream fragment, try to think if you did anything different the day before. There may be a link that will could help you remember more dreams in the future. Dreams can also be related to exciting events or stress and may be affected by food choices, bed time, and temperature.
I have some doozy dreams, from time-to-time, and I'm looking forward to trying out these tips to see if I can remember more of them. You never know, they might make the basis for another Irwin Quagmire Wart book. (Or a movie, perhaps!)